Jan 6, 2022 - News

Atlanta schools plan student COVID-19 surveillance testing

Magnets on a school locker in the shape of a contact tracing chart.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Atlanta Public Schools is encouraging their employees and students to take part in voluntary surveillance testing Thursday and Friday to help better track the spread of COVID-19.

The testing will be held at nine cluster sites from noon to 5pm. Parents can consent to allowing their children to get tested by clicking here or by visiting one of the test sites.

Why it matters: Data collected will be used in contact tracing efforts as the district plans to transition back to in-person learning on Monday.

  • It will also be one of the factors used to determine if individual classrooms or schools will remain open or move to remote learning in the future, district spokesperson Seth Coleman told Axios.

About 20% of APS students have consented to testing, he said. The district has just under 50,000 students enrolled, the latest Georgia Department of Education data shows.

When in-person classes resume next week, masks will be required for students and staff. APS employees will be required to undergo mandatory surveillance testing twice a week, a policy that began last semester.

Context: Atlanta, along with Clayton, DeKalb and Fulton county school systems, started the second semester with remote learning due to the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.

  • Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Marietta City Schools and City Schools of Decatur opened their classrooms for in-person learning.

Threat level: The seven-day average for cases, hospitalizations and percent of positive cases are at an all-time high in Fulton County, according to Atlanta-Fulton Emergency Management Agency’s presentation made Wednesday to the Board of Commissioners.

  • Fulton County’s seven day average for cases is 2,075, which is up 1,687% since Dec. 15.
  • The percentage of positive cases, which measures the number of cases over a seven day period, is now 36.6%. That’s an 813%-increase since Dec. 15.

By the numbers: 92% of all COVID cases in Georgia are from the Omicron variant, the Atlanta-Fulton EMA presentation said. Additionally:

  • 70% of new cases are in unvaccinated people.
  • 96% of all new hospitalizations are people who are unvaccinated
  • Unvaccinated people account for 96% of all new deaths.

Of note: Hospitalizations in Fulton County have increased by 667%, with pediatric COVID admissions spiking 771% since Dec. 15.

Statewide COVID-19 case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths can be found on the Department of Public Health’s website.

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